Sandhill Crane People, 2010

Corey Kudrna, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge

2010: Flyway Caretaker

Corey Kudrna was our guide at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri on March 30. Kudrna is a wildlife refuge specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Squaw Creek is key habitat for migrating birds that use the central U.S. flyway.

As we followed Kudrna, we saw nesting bald eagles, northern shovelers, blue-winged teal and white pelicans.

If you go, expect to see wildlife, especially birds, but don’t expect a wilderness experience.

Large wetlands bounded by levees make up the bulk of the 75-year-old, 7,415-acre preserve in the Missouri River floodplain just off Interstate 29. Restored dry prairie, rare wet prairie, crops and woodlands comprise the remaining area.

A management plan guides the actions of the refuge’s managers, including Kudrna. They restore native habitat, burn grasslands and flood and drain wetlands. The goal is to maintain the land in a way that helps wildlife.

A six-mile driving loop runs over part of the levee system, making the reserve easily accessible and a great place to sit in or near your car and watch birds and other animals.

Hundreds of thousands of snow geese use the area as a stopover during migration every spring and fall. They already had passed through.

– Margaret Berglund

Fly-by shooting

A pair of adult bald eagles surveyed the land and water this morning from their nest at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, near Mound City, Mo.

An elderly man who identified himself as Browny Brown sat nearby in a Ford Explorer with a camera lens poking out the window. He waited for the perfect shot when the birds would take flight.

“I like taking pictures of eagles because they fly so easy,” Brown said. “They’re just fun to watch.”

Brown has always liked taking pictures. But since his retirement he has found a love of photographing wildlife.

“I come out here every day for two to three hours if the sun is shining,” Brown said.  “I’ll stay longer if something is happening.”

He has a collection of pictures featuring eagles, deer and a variety of birds and aquatic life.

­– Morgan Ledermann

Kenny explains why it’s important to protect the whooping crane. audio

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